Wilson, Alan (Paley, 1953)
Sophie Clayton

02/07/1935 - 02/09/2021

As many of you will know Alan was extremely proud of the fact he studied at Giggleswick School, after attended Catteral Hall (the Prep School for Giggleswick) from 1946 to 1953.

He was a ‘House Senior’, which carried certain responsibilities for junior students, and perhaps surprisingly Alan was Captain of Athletics. The challenges he faced in later years, with walking, were clearly not apparent as a young man.

School records confirm that Alan was a strong runner, winning ‘Scarrig’ (the annual hill race) in 1952 and again in 1953. Scarrig is Giggleswick School’s annual Inter House Cross-Country Championships and is an event that reflects the school’s values of Participation, Ambition and Respect. The race involved every pupil from Year 7 to Year 13 and twice Alan crossed the line first. He was also placed 2nd and 3rd in the open mile event in 1952 and 1953 respectively so clearly a very fit, determined and competitive young man.

Alan also played rugby and earned his House Colours for cricket which, as some of you will be aware, led to a life-long passion for the game and in particular Test Match Special which he rarely missed listening to.

Alan’s school report described Alan as ‘cool and confident’ and it also refers to him playing the piano at the school Speech Day concert in 1951. He was a member of the school choir and developed a love of classical music which became a huge part of Alan’s life. 

Following school, in 1953, Alan joined the RAF, initially completing his National Service before then signing up for more. Alan’s mental agility enabled him to learn languages one of which was Russian. This made him a valuable team member as a translator at a time when the ‘Cold War’ threatened to wreak havoc on the world. It must have been both frightening and fascinating with Alan’s work being of significant importance to the RAF and to our country in general.

In keeping with his running prowess at school Alan continued to participate in athletics and in 1958 was Placed 4th in the Inter services Marathon (whilst representing the RAF). A very tough and competitive event! 

In 1965 Alan, by that time based at RAF Church Fenton, departed the RAF and joined Eggborough Garages where he worked from 1966-69. An opportunity to join a business of world renown near Selby, Croda Hydrocarbons, then came Alan’s way in 1970. He spent 8 years with Croda before joining Celcon Ltd in 1979 and worked there through to his retirement in 1992.

He came to be affectionately known as ‘Danger Man’ by certain of the Yorkshire Union officials and if you were staying overnight, ahead of an Inter-County match fixture, you knew you were in trouble if a bottle of Glayva appeared!

Alan never forgot his old school and having taken up golf whilst in the RAF he became President of the Old Giggleswickians Golf Society from 2010-2013. This reflects his lifelong association with the school that prepared him so well for independent life. Latterly his life focused around golf and in particular Selby Golf Club and The Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs. He loved being a part of the golfing fraternity and made friendships throughout Yorkshire and well beyond.

Alan first became involved as a golf volunteer through assisting Len Carpenter and Les Green who were the junior organisers at Selby. He was always willing to help with transport and enjoyed driving the junior team to away match fixtures and supporting them which sometimes involved caddying. He became a bit of a talent scout whilst watching junior golfers and no doubt mentored a few golfers over the years without necessarily realising it at the time.

Alan was invited to be club Captain at Selby in 1970 and in 1972 he became President of the East Riding of Yorkshire Golf Alliance in which Selby competed. This in turn led on to Alan becoming President of the Leeds and District Union of Golf Clubs in 1978 and in 1986 Captain of the Society of Leeds Golf Captains. Through his dedicated work and undoubted networking abilities Alan was subsequently invited to be President of the Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs in 1989. In that year also he was awarded honorary life membership of Selby Golf Club which reflected the high esteem in which the club held him.

Alan’s experience and knowledge of golf administration resulted in him becoming one of three trustees for the Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs. He undertook this responsible position for 16 years before ‘calling time’ on himself in 2015 once he reached ‘four score’ as he put it. County Rules required a Trustee to retire at this age and Alan always played by the rules.

Around this time Alan took on the role of ‘Senior Past President’ of the Yorkshire Union and was therefore responsible for contacting candidates who had been selected, by Yorkshire Union Past Presidents, to invite them to become the next President of Yorkshire. Those on the receiving end of a call from Alan will recall precisely when it was and where they were at the time of such a momentous call. 

Alan was a regular at Selby even after he stopped playing golf. He liked a beer but was quite particular about which one and also the type of glass in which it was served as you’ll hear later from Will. He also enjoyed playing cards each Friday afternoon at Selby with club colleagues and friends who became ‘family’.

Alan was always willing to get involved and take on responsibility. This was of great help to Secretary Keith Dowswell. Alan dealt with handicap matters, Yorkshire championships and latterly county team selection.

Past County Captains have spoken glowingly of Alan’s contribution to Yorkshire Golf, particularly during his seven-year term as Chairman of selectors from 1995 to 2002. 

Yorkshire enjoyed a period of amazing success under the supervision of Alan and Cec becoming England County Champions five times having won the Northern qualifier seven times!

It was certainly an astute comment within Alan’s school report all those years ago – ‘cool and confident’ a quality that both endeared him to others and enabled him to achieve so much in his lifetime.

In the words of Jay Whittam who wrote of Alan in a recent publication ‘A modest, reserved and very private gentleman who busied himself with duty on behalf of the Yorkshire Union for over forty years.’

Just as Alan was proud to be a part of the Giggleswick alumni I am certain that Giggleswick School will be equally proud of Alan’s achievements in life knowing that he lived it according to the values they instilled all those years ago - Participation, Ambition and Respect.